Disney music man Stan Freese on the radio
While commuting this morning, I caught Indie 103.1's morning show with special guest Stan Freese, (former?) conductor of the Disneyland Band. I only heard part of it, but it sounded like Mr. Freese, who is the father of drummer Josh Freese (Notorious One Man Orgy, The Vandals, Devo, A Perfect Circle, Dweezil Zappa) is now responsible for the managing the bands at Disneyland. He asserted that Disneyland music has a place for you if you can play under the Disneyland band niches (bluegrass, dixie, etc.). His son Josh coincidentally got his start playing brass in a Disneyland top 40 band.
I did catch one amusing comment regarding the changing attitudes of musicians these days. Back in the day, Freese remarked, the musicians were unreliable and reluctant to cut their hair to Disney regulation lengths, often smoking dope backstage during their breaks. Today, he noted, priorites have changed. Today's Disney musician is less concerned with recreational drugs and more concerned with noontime jogging and carrot juice drinking.
Re: Disney music man Stan Freese on the radio
I can certainly attest to that! Especially at Walt Disney World in the early years. Here's something I wrote earlier this year somewhat related to the "attitude" of the times he refers to:
Originally Posted by DisquietingMetamorphosis
>>Yep. Back in those early WDW years things were a lot different (or in some cases you could say they've come full circle) than they are today.
Because there was such an incredibly small labor pool to pull from (there wasn't much local population around WDW in those day)...the first several years of WDW operations saw many concessions to traditional hiring and operational practices and policies for Disney...in order to attract enough people to work there.
There was such a shortage of workers that in those first years Disney shipped a whole lot of Disneyland Cast to Florida to work in all areas. They also hired a lot from the Northeast U.S. (particularly from Boston) and flew them down and housed them and everything. This was a very expensive proposition for Disney, as you can imagine.
But even with that, they had to hire sub-par to norm for them. It was almost "If they can walk and chew gum at the same time..." that they were qualified! Almost any warm body would do. Some of the locals they were forced to hire were pretty uneducated and not too motivated. Causing one Disney executive to famously and frustratingly exclaim about a few, "Never mind Cast Member! I wouldn't want to have them here as a Guest!"
And in many more cases it was felt that the "local working speed" of many of these Cast was "Slow-to-Napping." :) I know a lot of that sounds very stereotypical of the portrayal of some folks in the South...but that's sorta what it was like in that local area back then. This place was, after all, built in a backwoods swamp area. The little town of Kissimmee was the closest to "civilization" back then. And even it was pretty tiny. As far as the local area around WDW back then was concerned...it really was a Small World, after all.
So...concessions were made. Not only were sunglasses allowed by most Cast Members, but mustaches and long sideburns were also allowed in certain positions. Getting musical talent was particularly difficult, so they allowed mustaches in most musical positions (like the Pearly Band and the Marching Band). These musicians were being lured away from places in downtown Orlando, and they worked Disney during the day and then went back to Orlando and worked their normal jazz gigs at restaurants and clubs there at night. These guys weren't going to shave for Disney...even for the extra money.
You'd see most operators of moving vehicles (such as on Main Street) wearing sunglasses in the extremely bright Orlando sunlight.
Don't know exactly when they started saying "no" to all this. But as the population quickly expanded in the area surrounding Lake Buena Vista...and the pool of available quality potential Cast grew with it...these things started to go away and the quality of Cast started to climb up to normal Disneyland standards.
To give you an idea of how...ummm...interesting it was with some Cast in those early days, sometime there in the 71-74 era, they broke up a large on-property prostitution ring at the Resort. It was being run and "staffed" by many of the Contemporary Resort's maids!!! Talk about Room Service! ;) Doubt you'll find that in any official WDW history book. There were other equally funny stories all over property about those early Cast days.
Yep. "Disney" didn't just happen overnight at Walt Disney World in regards to Cast when it first opened. That's for sure. But still...it was all fun and interesting and everybody seemed to survive those early jitters and mis-fires, just fine. And many of those initially sub-par Cast did learn and improve greatly "on-the-job" and ended up with fine and long careers at WDW, despite their rocky starts.
I once saw a group of musicians smoking weed at a little break picnic table behind the Magic Kingdom at WDW. One of the "Jolly Blue Giants" (WDW Security) walked over to them and I thought to myself, "Oh man...their ***** are so cooked." But Security dude just said hi and sat down (he obviously knew them) and talked to them for awhile and they were all laughing and just talking and stuff, in full view of hundreds of other coming-and-going Cast Members. The group offered Mr. Security Dude a hit, but he said "No Thanks" and they went on talking for awhile and then Mr. Security just got up and left to resume his rounds. It was like no big deal.
Yep. The musicians got away with murder in those old days. It was very much a "You need us much more than we need you" mindset at that time at WDW.
At Disneyland it may not have been quite the labor shortage that caused some to look the other way. I think it was more of a "Oh. It's just those darn musicians again. Forget about it." kind of thing. No way they would have allowed this for a second with a ride operator or anything (although I'm pretty sure it even happened with them on rare occasion).